Apr 02, 2023  
Course Catalog 2022-2023 
Course Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Art History Major

The major consists of a minimum of 11 full courses (or the equivalent) and language competency.

Note: Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major.

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Summary of Requirements


  • Students must complete a minimum of 8 Art History (ARTH) courses
  • ARTH 299 must be taken in the sophomore or junior year
  • No more than 2 courses at the 100-level may count toward the major (unless prior approval is received from the chair)
  • Honors does not count toward the 8 ARTH courses required for the major
  • Private readings will be HC and do not count towards the 8-course requirement

Transfer of Credit

No more than 3 full courses or the equivalent may be transferred to an Art History major, unless the courses were taken in an Oberlin-affiliated program. Students should submit transcripts, syllabi, class notes, term papers, and examinations in order to obtain final approval for credit.

Advanced Placement

A grade of 5 on the AP exam in Art History may be transferred as one full course to the Oberlin transcript. However, the department offers no major credit, and no exemption from major requirements, for AP work in Art History.  The Department offers no credit and no exemption for AP work in Studio Art.


Application for Honors occurs during Spring semester of Junior year. We encourage students who are interested in pursuing Honors to discuss the details of the program and potential topics with any member of the Art History faculty. Faculty members are likewise urged to encourage qualified students to consider applying for Honors.

Students seeking admission to the Honors Program in Art History must meet the following criteria:

  1. A minimum overall GPA of 3.25. In exceptional cases, students may petition to waive this requirement.
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.5 in Art History courses taken at Oberlin (by beginning of Spring semester of Junior year).
  3. Completion of ARTH 299 - Methods of Art History .
  4. At least two 200- and one 300-level Art History courses completed at Oberlin by the end of the Junior year.
  5. Two of the three courses listed in 4) above must have been in different areas of Art History.
  6. Completion of the Art History major’s language requirement.
  7. Writing Proficiency Qualification.

Students who meet the above qualifications should identify a faculty member who is willing to advise a year-long project (the “Honors Advisor”).  Together they will devise a plan of study, and the student submits a 5-page prospectus and a preliminary bibliography to the general Honors Supervisor (a designated faculty member) two Fridays prior to Spring Break.

After the prospectus and bibliography are submitted, the Honors Supervisor distributes them to the Art History faculty.

NOTE: Students who are away from campus in the second semester will submit a prospectus and bibliography no later than the Monday (one week) before the first day of classes of the Fall semester

Art History Major Course Lists

200-Level Art History Courses

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Art History Distribution Requirement

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Courses must be taken in at least 4 different areas offered by the art history faculty: Ancient-Medieval, Renaissance-Baroque, Modern-Contemporary, East Asian, African and African Diaspora, Islamic, or another area (which must be discussed with an Art History advisor and approved by the Chair of Art History).

Studio Art Courses

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Courses Outside of the Art Department

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Two courses outside of the Art Department (these should be chosen in consultation with your advisor to reflect your special geographic or chronological area of interest or a thematic focus in art history).

Language Competency Requirement

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An ability to speak and/or read in more than one language, equivalent to at least two semesters of introductory language study at Oberlin. Students may meet this requirement in a number of ways, including but not limited to: (1) completing a two-semester introductory language course at Oberlin; (2) placing above the first-year level on a placement test administered by one of the language departments; (3) transferring a course/s taken elsewhere equivalent to two semesters of an introductory language at Oberlin; (4) having been brought up in a bi-lingual or multilingual environment, in which case they should discuss this with the chair of the department who will request approval from Art History faculty; 5) having learned English as a second (or additional) language to those in which they were raised. 

Students are strongly encouraged to advance their knowledge of more than one language well beyond the major requirement. They are encouraged to study away/abroad for at least one semester and to focus on advancing their language skills during this time, ideally building on language knowledge acquired before the semester away/abroad (for instance, through introductory and intermediate language study at Oberlin). Art History at Oberlin has the language requirement because it reflects our commitment to offering a diverse and global curriculum with cultural, historical, and methodological breadth.

For students interested in pursuing Art History after graduation (for instance, jobs/internships in museums, jobs in arts non-profits, graduate school in Art History, etc.), the department strongly recommends advanced experience in languages relating to their area/s of interest in Art History. Regardless of what students go on to do, multilingualism will open doors and opportunities not otherwise available. Students interested in learning/developing knowledge in a language as it relates to a specific culture or geographical area in Art History are advised to meet with the relevant faculty member who teaches in their area of interest to get advice on which language/s are most useful.